It has become a stench at the U.S. Open: The pungent smell of marijuana wafts across the outer court, clouding the concentration of one of the world’s top players and leaving the impression that there is nowhere to escape the city’s smoldering Unofficial smell.
While the exact source of the smell remained a mystery Tuesday, one thing was clear: On Court 17, eighth-seeded Maria Sakkari complained of an overwhelming whiff of marijuana during a first-round loss Taste, the course has become notorious among players in recent years. Distinctive, distinct smell.
“Court 17 definitely smells like Snoop Dogg’s living room,” said Alexander Zverev, the tournament’s No. 12 seed who won his first game on the court on Tuesday. “My God, it’s everywhere. The whole courtroom smells like weed.”
The USTA was alarmed by Sakari’s match on Monday that made the stands at the U.S. Open look like a phishing concert, and launched its own investigation to clear the source of the smell.
Spokesman Chris Wiedmeyer said the USTA questioned officials and reviewed video of the noon match and found “no evidence” that marijuana was smoked in the stands on Court 17, leading to speculation that the marijuana may have come from the Corona Park courts outside the gates of this intimate stadium.
And he might not just be blowing smoke. When Sakkari complained to the umpire when she was leading 4-1 in the first set, she suggested this herself: “My God, the smell. I think it came from the park.”
“Sometimes you smell food, sometimes you smell cigarettes, sometimes you smell To the smell of marijuana. I mean, it’s out of our control because we’re in an open space. There’s a park in the back. People can do whatever they want.”
Flushing Meadows security guard Ricardo Rojas, who was working at the gate outside Court 17 on Monday, said he had a break in the park during Sakkari’s game and “there was definitely a smell. Pot.” But he noted that while he enforces a strict no-smoking policy at the USTA’s Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, the park is “out of my jurisdiction.”
In New York, it is legal for adults 21 and older to possess up to 3 ounces of marijuana and up to 24 grams of concentrated marijuana for personal use, and they can smoke or smoke marijuana where smoking is permitted.
Adam Placzek, who watched Monday’s game at Court 17 with two friends from Hartford, Conn., said he smelled marijuana but didn’t see any in the stands. People can come from marijuana. He admits he “plays games now and then,” but never dreamed of shining at the U.S. Open.
“My boss heard about the pot story at the U.S. Open and texted me,” Platzek said. “We told him we were there and he said, ‘That explains the smell!'”
Over the past few years, other players have complained about the marijuana smell emanating from Court 17, the 2,500-seat course that opened in 2011 and sits on the far southwestern corner of the course with little buffer from the park.
Marketa Vondrousova, the Wimbledon champion who won comfortably on Court 17 on Tuesday, told a similar story: “I did smell it today too. You smell a lot. I think It’s just pitch 17. That pitch is far away, almost in the park. I think it’s coming from the park.”
Sakari, a U.S. Open semifinalist two years ago, said the smell didn’t bother her when she played. Still, some fans at Flushing Meadows are impatient with the idea that top players will be unhinged by the smell of marijuana.
“This is New York. It’s everywhere,” said Diane Patrizio, a Southampton, New York, fan as she lined up to enter Court 17. “But what are you going to do?
“There are so many distractions at the U.S. Open. Focus on one thing and let it distract you? You just can’t do that,” she said.
Security officer Rojas said the smell of marijuana has become an unavoidable fact of life. “Turn every corner and you can smell it. It’s part of our world now. You have to get used to it.”
So what would he tell Sakari or any other player who complains about marijuana at a world-class game? “Try it. …It might help you relax.”